Tuesday, January 03, 2006

most overhyped restaurants

I dont cover restaurants much in this blog - I leave that to far more capable food writers, like jess, or daily gluttony. but I follow the chowhound boards pretty regularly, read food blogs and web sites all the time, and generally, um, devour food media. I tend to trust the recommendations of friends and blogs more than la.com or citysearch or la mag, who has never met a restaurant they didn't like and where its particularly difficult to discern the editorial from the ads. in fact, let me rant for a minute after reading LA mag's "best new restaurant" list - geisha house? seriously? I know it aspires to more serious food than your typical scene-y hollywood bar but best new restaurant? I dont think so. yet the mag redeemed itself slightly with the hungry cat, truly one of my favorite places in the neighborhood. in fact, it looks like I might be having dinner there tonight - its been far too long and a bowl of the oyster chowder might hit the spot in this crisp, new england weather we're having.so onto my other rant - din tai fung. this place has a reputation as LA's best dumpling house, particularly for xiao long bao, or soup dumplings, perhaps the most perfect food wrapped into a 2 inch dumpling. so expectations were high. when I lived in ny, trips to chinatown and flushing to joe's or goody's were common. everyEvergreen Shanghai Restaurant & Lounge - New York - Yelpone in LA raves about din tai fung, so john and trekked out to arcadia sat morning to stand in line in the rain at 10:15 until the place opened at 10:30. we ordered the soup dumplings, a few other dumplings, buns, and some spinach to cut thru all the pork. quite frankly, the soup dumplings were seriously disappointing. the wrapper is thin and almost translucent - good start but it was downhill from there. they're small - much smaller than ny's. very little soup in the dumpling and perhaps most egregiously, the crab didn't taste particularly fresh. john complained about the texture as well - it was a bit mealy.
so I'm having a hard time seeing what the fuss is about - it was far inferior to joe's, goody's, or even evergreen. perhaps the issue is lineage - din tai fung is an outpost of a chain based in taipei, while soup dumplings are from shanghai. tricky little din tai fung - you can't fool this jewish girl. so now the search continues - any good shanghai places with amazing soup dumplings? I'm not afraid of the SGV, nor of a B health code rating. tell me where to go.


At 2:29 PM, Blogger vivageneva said...

We could use some architectural guidance here in the heart of New York's Finger Lakes. Feel free to drop by for a visit on your way to the city!


At 11:38 PM, Blogger Keith said...

Dunno about soup dumplings, but there's a tiny place just inside the gate at Chinatown that I go to regularly for dim sum. You can stuff yourself silly for under $10, and it's quality material. I may be making another run soon... let me know if you want to come with.

At 5:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I don't know about soup dumplings, but if you want quality you'd be hardpressed to find in NY, check out this mongolian hot pot restaurant (whose name escapes me) on the NW block of Valley and Del Mar in the SGV. You won't miss the plaza. It's on the top floor of a brand new strip mall, right next door to the Hilton. But be warned. It's SPICY, even for mongolian hot pot!


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